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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Monday, July 30, 2007

    The importance of the book metaphor for e-books

    On YouTube, there is a Google Tech Talk video entitled Turning the Pages on an E-Book—Realistic Electronic Books, by Veronica Liesaputra, PhD candidate at the University of Waikato, in which she discusses her research on realistic e-books. Beginning with a definition of e-books, she goes on to look at the mental model that readers use to make sense of what they are viewing:
    An electronic book is defined as a digital book that not only captures the affordances of a physical book, but also transcends the limitations of its paper counterpart. There is much debate as to whether the use of the book metaphor is appropriate for an electronic document. User studies suggest that current popular document presentations (HTML and PDF) are not always the most convenient, or the most comfortable, for the reader. On the other hand, while realistic physically-based computer models of books have been around for years, they are rarely deployed in practice.
    The talk reviewed computer graphics models for page-turning, from complex physical models based on the finite element method to 3-D geometric models and simple light-weight programmed models involving reflection and rotation. Linking to The British Library's 'Turning the Pages' project, the talk also described and demonstrated her
    realistic book implementation that allows a document to be automatically presented with quick and easy-to-use animated page turning, while still providing readers with many advantages of electronic documents, such as hyperlinks and multimedia.
    Functionality can be added to books very simply while the page-turning model is simulated so that users remain familiar with how the book 'works'. It is important for users to have a model for what is being viewed so that they understand how it is used, the symbols or icons used, and how the communication process functions.

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